Did you know?

Your heart is about the size of an adult fist and weighs about 1 pound.

How your heart works

Your heart is a muscle. Its main "job" is to pump blood rich in oxygen and nutrients through miles of blood vessels in your body. All cells in your body need oxygen to survive.

Each side of your heart has two chambers: an upper one (called an atrium) and a lower one (called a ventricle).

Between each chamber are valves that keep your blood moving in the right direction.

Two blood vessels and their branches, called coronary arteries, supply blood to your heart. These arteries are on the outside of your heart.

Your heart also has an electrical system. This powers your heart's pumping system. A group of special cells sends an electrical impulse through your heart muscle causing it to contract, or beat, about 60 to 100 times per minute.

These special cells are called the sinoatrial (SA) node and the atrioventricular (AV) node.

How your heart works

Your heart is a muscle that has an electrical system and two chambers, through which blood flows. It is about the size of an adult fist and weighs about one pound.

How your heart works in color

Nodes make your heart beat. The ventricles pump blood to your body and lungs.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, fifth edition, 1-931876-31-2
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/10/2015